Hurricane Matthew: A destructive week as seen from the skies

7 Oct 20163 Shares

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On 5 October, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite captured a visible image of Hurricane Matthew moving through the Bahamas. Image NOAA/NASA Goddard Rapid Response Team

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Hurricane Matthew has been battering the Caribbean and some states of the US this week, with NASA’s view of the event quite spectacular.

NASA started tracking Hurricane Matthew towards the end of September, warning locals to prepare for a tropical storm as it emerged in the central Atlantic ocean.

Originally issuing a tropical storm warning to Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Lucia, Dominica, Barbados, St Vincent, and the Grenadine Islands, NASA and the US National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) quickly watched it grow.

Hurricane Matthew

On 29 September, Matthew headed deeper into the Caribbean. Winds were hitting 110km/h, with Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba the target of its force.

By 30 September, Matthew was upgraded to hurricane status, with winds now recorded at 165km/h as Jamaica was hit.

The above video from 27-30 September shows the tropical storm moving into the Caribbean Sea, where it became a hurricane.

Pretty soon, NOAA upgraded it again to a major hurricane, with 195km/h winds crashing from the Colombia-Venezuela border to Riohacha, as it headed for Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

NOAA then created an image of Hurricane Matthew, showing a small eye surrounded by bands of powerful thunderstorms wrapping around it. The image also revealed powerful thunderstorms in fragmented bands on the western and eastern side of the storm.

Hurricane Matthew’s clear eye as the storm moved through the south central Caribbean Sea. Image: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

Hurricane Matthew’s clear eye as the storm moved through the south central Caribbean Sea. Image: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

On 3 October, “dangerous rainfall” was recorded – up to 40in some places – and Haiti was warned to expect the worst.

Credits: NASA/JAXA, Hal Pierce

Credits: NASA/JAXA, Hal Pierce

Cameras outside the International Space Station captured dramatic views of Hurricane Matthew just before it hit Haiti.

The following day Hurricane Matthew finally landed hit Haiti.

https://gyazo.com/6d4f87ebaeae8e099aa07eb10d9a9934

The above animation from 2-4 October shows Hurricane Matthew moving through the Caribbean Sea and making landfall on western Haiti. Gif: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

By 4 October, the entirety of Haiti and the Dominican Republic was engulfed by Hurricane Matthew, with Cuba gradually feeling the force.

This was the strongest storm to hit the area in more than 50 years, with Matthew showing sustained winds of 230km/h.

Image: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens

Image: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens

On 6 October, Hurricane Matthew made it to the US. Satellite imagery of the Florida coast showed it was barely visible through the clouds as another hurricane, Nicole, lay further off land in the Atlantic.

Image: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

Image: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

The latest update from NASA on Hurricane Matthew shows the true workings of the weather event.

The false-colour infrared image shows that the northeast and southwest quadrants of the storm had the coldest cloud tops, denoting the regions of the storm where the strongest precipitation was occurring at the time.

Image: Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Image: Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Gordon Hunt is a journalist at Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com